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Credit: Annie Luo

Pearl Kim, the Republican candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in Pennsylvania’s Fifth District, said she is often mistaken for a Democrat.

During an event sponsored by Penn College Republicans in Huntsman Hall on Tuesday night, Kim discussed her relationship with her own party, her bipartisan credentials, and the impact she hopes to have on politics.

Kim, who was publicized on the College Republican's Facebook event as a "Penn alumna," clarified that she attended Bryn Mawr College. She took Korean courses at Penn through the Quaker Consortium, which allows students at Bryn Mawr, Haverford, and Swarthmore colleges to take classes at Penn that are not offered at their home school.

Her opponent in PA-5, Democrat Mary Gay Scanlon, is a 1984 Penn Law graduate who has a 99.9 percent chance of winning the race, according to FiveThirtyEight.

Kim started out at Bryn Mawr as a fine arts major. After she was sexually assaulted her senior year, she was motivated to become a special victims prosecutor, due to her frustration with her experience in the criminal process.

A former assistant district attorney and a senior deputy attorney general in Pennsylvania, she said combating sexual assault is the "most important issue" she is campaigning on.

After discussing her political views, Kim said she sometimes gets asked why she’s part of the GOP. Her response? "Because I’m a fiscal conservative, and I believe in smaller government."

When asked how she combats the notion of a stereotypical Republican, Kim said her stances on various issues do not need to match up with every other member of her party.

“There’s a lot of diversity within the Republican tent — just as there's a lot of diversity within the Democratic tent,” she said. 

Marley Putt, a graduate student in the Master of Social Work program, said Kim’s politics are a driving factor in her support of the candidate. She said that Kim’s immigration standpoints are very similar to hers, taking a more centrist approach than the current mainstream Republican stance.

Putt didn’t know much about Kim before Tuesday, but decided to attend the event to educate herself on the election since she’s voting absentee in PA-5.

“After tonight, I feel like I’m decided on [voting for Kim],” she said.

Credit: Annie Luo

Wharton junior Danielle Yampolsky is the political director for Penn College Republicans. Given the wide range of opinions within the Republican party, she said it’s important that College Republicans “strives to foster all of those views.”

“If elected, [Kim] would bring a very unique perspective to Congress that many current Congress candidates lack,” she said.

Kim also emphasized her interest in bipartisanship, citing her previous experience working under Democratic Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro. 

Wharton freshman Will Sealy said he thought this commitment to working across the aisle was a key part of Kim’s talk. 

“What really stood out to me is that she is somewhat not going with the partisan flow,” Sealy said.

Kim said she sees her views, as well as her identity, as important in shaping the national conversation around who composes the different political parties.

“I’m running to change the narrative of politics, to change the narrative of what you expect your congressman to look like — [they] could actually be an Asian female,” she said.